The Cittaslow philosophy in the context of sustainable tourism development; the case of Turkey

This paper studies the Cittaslow (slow city) philosophy in terms of sustainable tourism development (STD); and in this context research was undertaken for the case of Turkey.

Cittaslow, a movement rooted in STD philosophy, aims to encourage the development of tranquil cities already known for their historical, natural, socio-cultural, and touristic features and the intention is to offer a significant contribution to systematic and rapid implementation of STD on a global scale. This paper, which makes a particular study of the practice of STD in Turkey, offers new candidate cities (Uzungöl, Hasankeyf, Safranbolu, Ürgüp, and _Iznik) and, thus, endeavours to contribute to the spread of STD throughout the whole country. In this study, above-named cities were found to be particularly good candidates for Cittaslow membership.

In addition to these: Tatvan, Midyat, Alanya, and Fethiye were also found to be potential Cittaslows even though they fail to meet the population criterion.

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Tourism is, to a great extent, a products/services consuming industry in addition to being a service producing sector. Major inputs drawn on during touristic activities are historic sites, natural resources, and the socio-cultural heritage of a place. A significant number of these elements, or even most of them, are related directly or indirectly to the environment. 

Tourism is, therefore, mainly a range of environment-based activities and it follows that the sustainability of resources used during the execution of touristic activities is of great importance because of this close relationship. Clearly, tourism management is incomplete without the inclusion of historical, environmental, and socio-cultural elements. Sustainable development can be defined as; 'sustaining the existence of all living creatures together in harmony and without any threat to each other'. 

This definition can be adapted to 'sustainable tourism development' as 'sustaining the activities of all persons and institutions in harmony with all other elements such as history, the environment, and socio-cultural values'. Currently, a number of organisations exist to underpin the continued existence of historic structures, natural resources, and socio-cultural values and protect them from further dangers. Cittaslow is among these, and while the requirements of this philosophy are not executed directly under sustainable tourism development (STD), it is clear that they are very closely related. 

In this paper I research common practices of the Cittaslow philosophy in the context of STD and propose some Cittaslow candidate cities inTurkey (Uzungöl, Hasankeyf, Safranbolu, Ürgüp, and _Iznik). These cities are expected to have the potential to execute STD at institutional level when transitioning to Cittaslows. For this purpose, extensive data have been collected and the Cittaslow capacities of the above-mentioned cities plus several other cities in Turkey revealed. 

To establish the appropriateness of the proposed Cittaslows a comparative descriptive analysis has been made. This includes some of the current Cittaslows in Turkey plus several other cities in addition to my proposed candidate cities. While similar practices already exist, this paper endeavours to show that it would be possible to realise STD in a more systematic and speedy way if the number of slow cities in the world were to be increased.

Mehmet Behzat Ekinci - Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Mardin Artuklu University, Mardin 47100, Turkey